The past few years have been really tough for me honestly. In 2016, I felt more stuck than ever before.
I graduated grad school and started working as a public health researcher in Baltimore. I then quit my job to go on a three-week vacation in the summer with all intentions of getting a new job afterward but things didn’t go as I imagined. I got rejected from what felt like a neverending string of job applications. I struggled with chronic health problems. I felt frustrated and like I was completely losing at life.
As I worked to “unstuck” myself, I noticed that I started using this visualization technique after seeing the movie, Gravity, for the third time.
(If you haven’t seen that movie, go watch it then come back for the rest! I repeat: spoilers ahead!)
When I’m feeling hopeless about things and beat down by life, I imagine myself as Sandra Bullock in Gravity. She gets detached from the spaceship and spins through space alone. How can you ever get out of that situation?
Is there literally anything worse than being detached and spinning out of control, alone in space?
Then her only companion up there dies. She has to make it to one space station, then another. She encounters problem after problem and literally almost gives up when she’s sitting in the Russian space station and turns down the oxygen and the lights and gets ready to die…
But she changes her mind (or so we “see” – I was recently informed of an alternate ending theory that BLEW MY MIND) and uses a fire extinguisher to propel herself to the other spaceship. The ship is almost touching the atmosphere and she failed this type of landing in the simulator. But she doesn’t stop. She always keeps going.
And that’s life.
It’s hard and the challenges won’t let up. You lose again and again and again. Just because you make it through one difficult experience doesn’t mean things are going to be smooth sailing from there on out. Life’s going to continue to throw things at you and you have to fight back and keep going if you ever want to land on Earth in the water, struggle to swim to the surface and make your way back to civilization from the forest.
(Which is going to be hard too!)
As Matt Kowalski said,
“Listen, do you wanna go back, or do you wanna stay here? I get it. It’s nice up here. You can just shut down all the systems, turn out all the lights, and just close your eyes and tune out everyone. There’s nobody up here that can hurt you. It’s safe. I mean, what’s the point of going on? What’s the point of living? Your kid died. Doesn’t get any rougher than that. But still, it’s a matter of what you do now. If you decide to go, then you gotta just get on with it. Sit back, enjoy the ride. You gotta plant both your feet on the ground and start livin’ life. Hey, Ryan? It’s time to go home.”
I don’t know, maybe this whole visualization doesn’t do anything for you. Everyone’s different. But for me, it helps to shift my expectations about my own feelings. I’m not supposed to feel like things are easy, because they aren’t and won’t ever be. That’s okay. That’s not the point.
The point is to keep going no matter what.